Brown Bear in Croatia

On the slopes of  Velebit mountain in Lika, 30 km from the Adriatic coast and 60 km from Plitvice Lakes National Park lies a small village called Kuterevo well known among the nature lovers for the Bear Refuge situated in it. Kuterevo extends on 6 km valley and counts  634 habitants. It is situated 10 km from the National park Northern Velebit.  People in the village are very hospitable and tolerant, which is necessary for coexistence of people and  bears.

Velebit / Velebit Association Kuterevo

The Bear Refuge was founded in 2002. and is being run by Velebit Association Kuterevo, also know as VUK (what in Croatian means wolf), according to the acronym in Croatian language. The main goal of the Association  is to provide a life long shelter for the orphan bears or other bears who, for different reasons, cannot be brought back to the wild. At the moment the Refuge hosts eight bears who all lost their mothers during the  first year of their lives  and thus had no chance of survival in the wild. 

Bears from Kuterevo / Velebit Association Kuterevo


The fundaments of the project lies on volunteers. Basically, the Bear Refuge Project and the Volunteers’ Station are coordinated by volunteers, among whom many come from all over the world. 

The volunteers Station is a typical house of the region in which volunteers live, work and have fun. It is situated close to the centre of the village and next to the baby bear centre. There are usually several volunteers from different countries, who run everyday activities of the project. Lifestyle is as much as possible sustainable and nature friendly (composting, reusing waste, biodegradable products, local and home-made food, rain water etc.).

Volunteers from Kuterevo / Velebit Association Kuterevo

Many of the local households grow and produce homemade organic food like milk, cheese, eggs, vegetables, etc. Buying food from locals is a good way to support organic production and interact with the people from the village. It also gives an opportunity to learn about home‐made products and traditional ways of living.


Next to the volunteer station is the young bear centre where live Marko Kralj, born in 2012, and two other young bears, Mlada Gora and Mladi Dol. Both of them are born in 2010, like all the bears during the winter dormancy in January or February. We have 5 older bears. Huu Bear and Vlad Mir, who are 7 years old. Blago Zoo is 8 years old and is from Zagreb Zoo. The three of them share an enclosure with two big male bears that are 12 years old – Ljubo Lik and Zdravi Gor.

Bears from Kuterevo / Velebit Association Kuterevo


In Croatia live around 1000 bears in the wild. The bears living in Croatia are part of the Dinaric population, where live around 2800 bears. This is the second largest population in Central Europe. The colour of the bear pelt can vary from light grey to black, but mostly is brown, so therefore the brown bear has his name, in Croatian "smeđi medvjed". 

Bears from Kuterevo / Velebit Association Kuterevo

The bear is biologically classified as a rare species. The limited size of the available habitat and the large space the bears require, prevent any significant further growth of the bear population. 

More information on the Bear Refuge Kuterevo and how you can help: and

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